The Ruckus


 

This takes place in an alternate universe where Duncan has recruited a pair of qunari, a saarebas mage and her handler, as well as a Dalish elf who has been living in the wilds. The two elf and two human recruits have just met the taciturn qunari. Now it’s time to bed down before their excursion into the Wilds at dawn.

 

 

Bannon had left the watchfire to his new comrades. Let the others crack their skulls against the qunari wall of imposing reticence. He’d figure them out later. It was a short walk to the small cul-de-sac where the recruits had their tents.

He ducked into his own tent, startling the red-haired elven woman there. “What are you doing here?” he asked with a grin.

“Your laundry, ser,” Fyora replied with overacted subservience. She patted down and smoothed out the extra blankets and pillows she’d laid out on his cot. Bannon set his weapons down by the door. She stood and came over to him, her bright sea-green eyes dancing.

“Don’t you know about the king’s edict about not having elves in your tent after dark?” he admonished her.

She tilted her head back and laughed. “If we followed that, you, me, and every other elf in the camp would be sleeping out in the fields.” Without waiting for a reply, she leaned in and kissed him. He kissed her back and wrapped his arms around her. After a moment, though, she pulled back. “You reek of leather.” She wrinkled her nose prettily at him to take the sting out of her words. “Patryk said the Dalish are here. What do you know about that?”

“Oh, I see,” Bannon said, “you’re just here for gossip.” Nevertheless, he started unbuckling his weapon harness and getting out of his leather armor.

Fyora scooted around him to tie the tent flaps closed. “Don’t be silly. If I wanted just gossip, I could get that anywhere.” When she finished with the ties, she returned to the cot and sat on it, tucking her feet under her. She looked up expectantly, like a child demanding a story.

“Well, ‘the Dalish’ aren’t here,” he told her, setting his armor pieces on a bench that doubled as a low table. “There’s one Dalish, his name is Llornwynn.” Bannon frowned slightly to himself. “I don’t know where his clan is…. I couldn’t get much out of him.”

“Where’d he come from? What’s he doing here?”

“I don’t know,” Bannon admitted. “And apparently he’s going to join the Wardens.”

“Is he really arrogant?” Fyora asked. “Patryk said he made all kinds of snide remarks about city elves doing laundry and wearing aprons.”

“I think he was just joking,” Bannon said. He sat on the end of the bench and pulled his boots off. “Honestly, how often do you make laundry jokes? Oh, let me see, I think you made one just five minutes ago.”

She laughed. “Can you introduce me to him?”

Bannon let his boot drop to the carpeted floor with a muffled thud. “Oh, now I see,” he said slowly. “You just want to use me to get to him, is that your nefarious plan?” He put on a hurt puppy expression.

“No, no, no.” Fyora reached forward and tugged him by the hand, til he sat down next to her on the cot. The extra blankets and padding made it almost soft as a true mattress. The woman stroked his shoulders and arms soothingly. “I was just curious is all. You know I like you.” Her lips met his gently, in a series of brief, soft kisses.

“I like you, too,” he said, cradling the back of her head so he could hold her still for a longer kiss. He caressed her neck, then pulled back a little. “Look, Fyora,” he said, “I don’t want to be a total cad….”

“But…?” Her brows went up as she gave him a warning look.

“But I have to be out at first light tomorrow morning. I’m going on a mission.”

Her expression darkened. “Oh, so you want to bed me, then have me leave, like a common whore — is that it?”

He winced, but that was hardly unexpected. He worked to smooth it over. “It’s not that. I just don’t want you to get into trouble if someone comes for me first thing in the morning.”

Fyora rolled her eyes. She wasn’t buying that line. “You mean you don’t want to get into trouble. Well, maybe I should go now, before it rains.” She moved to get up.

Bannon forestalled her with a grip on her arm. “All right, all right.” He tugged her back. “If anyone comes to get me, it’ll probably be Daveth. I can handle him.” If Daveth threatened to blow the whistle, Bannon would just turn around and threaten to start a rumor that Daveth had a terrible rash. That would make it twice as impossible for the scruffy rogue to get a woman. Though the worst Daveth would probably do would be to get jealous and needle Bannon all day. He wasn’t exactly uptight about following the rules. “But if they send Ser Jory after me, we’re doomed.” The knight was another story altogether.

Fyora leaned against his shoulder and toyed with the collar of his shirt. “I wish you weren’t a fighter,” she said. “Going off on missions, smelling of sweat and leather, maybe even getting killed.”

Bannon took a breath, then held it to keep from sighing. He rather liked the smell of his leathers. What was so much better about smelling of sweat and dirt? And working for shems all your long miserable life? He tried to fight back his ire, but he said bitingly, “Maybe you should have brought me a bath instead of laundry.”

“Maybe you should have gotten yourself a wife,” she snapped back. He flinched, and that wasn’t an affected gesture. He’d told Fyora an abbreviated version of his story, about his wedding being invaded by guards who tried to rape his fiancee, and his having fled after killing some. Immediately, she paled, her eyes going wide. “I’m so sorry,” she said. “I didn’t think.” She stroked his arms again. “Bannon, I’m sorry.”

He didn’t reply. He stood and reached for the lamp hanging from the tent pole. He doused the light. The orange glow faded slowly, leaving the interior of the tent painted in washes of charcoal.

“Do you want me to leave?” Fyora asked quietly.

“No,” he said in the darkness. He came back to the cot and took her in his arms. Without any more words, she comforted him.

 

At this point is a brief interlude while another qunari (a kossith, actually) wanders into camp and stumbles upon the slumbering qunari. The uptight qun take him for some kind of outcast enemy and the saarebas tries to blast him. This is not a good thing to do in the middle of an encamped army….. All hell breaks loose and everyone starts fighting whoever they think needs fighting.

 

Things were just getting interesting when suddenly something somewhere outside the tent exploded in a flash of white light and deafening thunder. The inside of the tent lit up brighter than daylight. Fyora screamed, and Bannon leapt straight up in the air. He almost landed on his feet, but tangled up in the bedclothes as he was, he pitched right over on his arse. Dogs started barking and men started shouting and running. Fyora screamed again and clamped a hand over her mouth, cutting it off. Bannon scrambled around in the sudden darkness, grabbing for his pants and putting them on. The right way ’round would help!

He stamped his feet into his old boots, heart hammering as the sounds of chaos outside built to a dull roar. “What’s going on?” Fyora cried, her eyes wide, her fingers pressed nervously to her lips.

“Stay here,” Bannon told her as he grabbed one of his swords with one hand and the leather armor chestpiece with the other. Deftly, he yanked the flap ties open and ducked out of the tent.

He stopped and looked around. He saw shadowy figures running past from the mage quarters. There was definitly the sound of swords ringing together near the Warden watchfire. Darkspawn couldn’t possibly have gotten this far into the camp without making a ruckus until now — was somebody fighting? Bannon tossed his armor over his head and awkwardly started buckling it into place. It would chafe without clothing or padding underneath, but he didn’t have time for all that.

A few moments later, Jory and Daveth appeared from their tents. Either they slept in their armor, or they hadn’t bedded down yet, because both looked ready for battle. “What’s going on?” Bannon asked them, yanking his leathers straight.

Daveth shrugged — how would they know? Ser Jory scowled at Bannon. “Did I hear a woman screaming in your tent?”

“Uhh…” Bannon’s eyes darted as he tried to think of an answer to that one. They fell upon Daveth, who only gave him a sympathetic grimace. The elf snapped his eyes back to the knight. “Yes!” he blurted. Rapidly he spit out, “Yes, th-th-there’s a woman in my tent! Because it definitely was not me, screaming like a girl. Because, heh-heh,” he chuckled weakly, “I don’t do that. Of course.”

Daveth slapped a hand over his mouth, utterly failing to stifle a snorting laugh. Ser Jory just rolled his eyes and turned away, muttering something about elves underbreath. Behind his back, Daveth just shook his head at Bannon, still snickering, though not for the reasons the knight expected.

As the two followed Jory towards the commotion, Bannon growled at Daveth, “You had to joke about Darkspawn coming for tea.”

“You started it.”

They almost smacked into Ser Jory’s broad back as the Redcliffe knight stopped short. “Th- there’s two of them?”

 

Two massive horned figures were battling it out, oblivious to the mass of soldiers, Wardens, Templars, and a scattering of mages surging around them. There were shouts from all quarters: “What’s going on?” “Are we under attack?” “It’s Darkspawn!” “It’s the mages!” “There’s an ogre loose!” “GET THEM!”

“What do we do?” Daveth cried.

“Well, that’s our ogre!” Bannon snapped. “Uh, or one of them is!” He dashed towards the fray.

 

He darted past several pairs of fighting men. One felled an opponent with a charge of his shield, then raised his sword to strike the downed man. Bannon lashed out low with one foot and tripped him, sending him sprawling instead. Then to his right he saw a soldier wrestling with an elf. The elf was armed only with a bowstave and the two fought to twist it out of each other’s grip. Bannon came up behind the shem and nailed him in the nuts with a swift kick. That settled that fight.

The elf nodded his thanks, then his eyes went wide, focussing on something behind Bannon. The Warden recruit was no dummy, without bothering to look, he ducked and dove over the shem writhing on the ground. He came up out of a roll and looked back. Another shem, this one with a heavy warhammer, was after him. He and the army elf started backpedalling.

Suddenly there was a flash, and the hammer-weilder keeled over, snoring prodigiously. Several soldiers behind the man also slumped to the ground, fanning out in a circle.

“Mages!” the elf warned, taking off.

“Shit!” Bannon replied eloquently. He glanced around swiftly, but couldn’t identify any mages. How would you fight such a thing anyway? And where were the Wardens in this mess? Yet again he cursed them for not having an insignia.

He’d gotten turned around in the battlefield, and he couldn’t see the towering qunari anywhere. He struck off in the direction of the loudest noise and hoped for the best.

Bannon came up behind a robed figure with a helm. The tall human raised both arms and started glowing blue. Bannon had no idea what that meant, but he gamely brough his sword down on the man’s head. With a loud CLANG! the Templar pitched forward and flopped on his face. Surely he wasn’t dead, but least he stopped glowing.

Unfortunately, Templars didn’t work alone. Another whirled on Bannon as his companion fell, striking out with his sword. The elf ducked and darted in low, ramming his sword hilt into the Templar’s groin. That also resulted in a CLANG, but nothing more from the armored man than a slight grunt. Bannon cursed. As the Templar brought his sword around in a backswing, Bannon ducked left, then reversed and dodged right. The blade swished over his head, and the Templar lost his balance for a moment. The armored man’s head swung back and forth, and Bannon realized the guy was having a hard time seeing him when he ducked out of sight too quickly.

Nevertheless, the Chantry’s knights were highly trained to overcome their weaknesses, and in a moment the Templar was advancing on Bannon again. The elf back pedalled, and tried another feint. The Templar tracked him more carefully this time and followed, leading with his sword. Bannon backed into a soldier in splintmail, then rammed his elbow into the metal plates across the man’s back. It hurt him more than it hurt the soldier, but the shem turned to face the threat behind him. Bannon turned with him, deftly dumping this new dance partner on the Templar. The soldier blocked the Templar’s sword with his mace, then counterattacked.

 

A flare of green marshlight flickered low through the combatants’ legs, and a dark stain spread across the packed dirt and half-buried paving stones of the ground. Bannon frowned down at it, wondering what horrible spell this was. He didn’t have much time to contemplate it, because another soldier was bearing down on him. He tried the fake-left/dodge-right trick again, only as he shifted direction, his feet shot out from under him and he landed in the slick goo covering the ground. The soldier tried to follow his feint and ended up sprawled in the other direction.

“I hate mages,” Bannon decided. Carefully, he got his feet under him, then stood. The shem scrambled around in the muddy glop, and Bannon had to bite his lip to keep from laughing. In a huge circle, soldiers and Templars, and not a few mabari, were all trying to stand up with hilarious results. The stoic Templars especially seemed to be in a panic, and the faster they tried to stand, the faster they fell back down — and those long dresses they wore were not helping matters. Of course, Bannon had no idea that mages often followed up with a fire spell, and the grease they were standing in was highly flammable.

“Yep, yep, yep,” he said, cockily swinging his sword in a circle. “Can’t beat good ol’ elven dexterity.” At that moment, a mabari made an impressive lunge and managed to end up sliding several feet across the circle of grease. The dog slammed into the elf’s legs, and Bannon went flying face first into the muck. “AUGH!”

He lifted his head and spat out a mouthful of grease. “Stupid mutt!” He shook his head violently to flick goo out of his eyes.

“What did you call my dog!?” the Ash Warrior on the other end of the leash snarled. He wriggled towards Bannon, practically swimming towards the elf with murder in his eye.

Bannon’s sword had fallen out of his hand; he scrabbled around for it, cursing. He couldn’t find it, so he slugged the dog-boy in the face with his fist. The mabari barked and snapped at the elf’s legs, so he rolled away from the beast. The Ash Warrior half raised himself out of the muck and lunged at Bannon, tackling him. By this time, the elf was entirely coated in grease, so he was hard to hold onto. Bannon flailed about with elbows and fists.

The grease started drying up on the ground, and more Ash Warriors converged on the two combatants, egging them on with yelling and the barking of their hounds. Bannon wasn’t doing too badly. Though he was smaller and not as strong as the human, he had a slight edge from the fear the dog would get ahold of him. That, and he didn’t mind fighting dirty. Even literally.

 


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